Several demonstrations took place in the provinces of Idlib and Aleppo on Friday to protest against the remarks recently made by the UN envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura and against the Assad regime and its Russian ally’s preparations for a military offensive in the region.
Local activists said that demonstrations took place in more than 20 locations across Idlib and Aleppo provinces. Protesters waved the flag of the Syrian revolution, reaffirming commitment to the goals of the revolution and that they would continue to resist the regime until victory. They also condemned the remarks that the UN special envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura made on Thursday, raising banners that read ‘de Mistura sold Aleppo and paved the way to Idlib.’
De Mistura called for the opening of a ‘humanitarian corridor’ for the evacuation of nearly 4 million out of Idlib province. Protestors said that such remarks would help the Assad regime empty the area of its local population and serve the Assad regime's plans for the mass forced displacement and demographic change.
Demonstrators pointed out that de Mistura failed to condemn the Assad regime which used chemical weapons in more than 216 occasions in different areas of Syria. They noted that the UN envoy’s remarks echoed the regime’s threats of using this weapon again in Idlib.
Meanwhile, member of the Coalition’s political committee, Ahmed Ramadan, slammed de Mistura’s remarks calling for the displacement of nearly four million civilians from Idlib province. Ramadan called on de Mistura to quit as the UN envoy.
In comments he posted on Twitter on Thursday, Ramadan said that de Mistura failed to condemn the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons in more than 216 attacks against Syrian civilians. The UN envoy did not denounce the Assad regime’s murder of more than 20,000 detainees under torture out of 95,000 forcibly disappeared people, Ramadan added. He also slammed de Mistura’s proposals for the opening of a ‘humanitarian corridor’ to evacuate civilians from Idlib instead of seeking to prevent the attack on the province.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Islamic Council called on Syrians to unite in the face of any possible aggression by Russia and the Assad regime on Idlib. The Council stressed that those who join the enemy or ally with it or work for the benefit of foreign occupiers and fight their fellow Syrians in Idlib must be treated in the same way as the soldiers of Bashar al-Assad. It urged rebel groups to unite and close ranks against any possible Russian and Assad regime aggression.
The province of Idlib is home to the largest humanitarian gathering in the north of Syria. Most of the people live in unofficial camps lacking the most basic humanitarian necessities. In recent weeks, the Assad regime and its Russian ally have been issuing threats that they would attack the province amid near utter silence by the international community which is showing complete disregard for the fate of civilians should the regime and its allies attack the province. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Syrian Coalition’s National Commission on Detainees and Missing Persons on Thursday held a press conference in Istanbul on death of detainees under torture in the prisons of the Assad regime and the responsibility of the international community towards this issue.
Yasser Al-Farhan, member of the Coalition’s political committee, said that the Assad regime's continued arrest and torture of activists will further fuel the Syrian revolution. He underscored photos of victims that Caesar leaked along with other documents and reports that were released by international commissions of inquiry and independent rights organizations have exposed the magnitude of the crime that cannot be covered up.
The Assad regime indicts itself and provides evidence of its involvement in the kidnapping and enforced disappearance of detainees over the past several years,” al-Farhan told reporters. The Assad regime has recently begun issuing death notices for detainees who have died while in its custody. It has refused to hand over their bodies to their families or inform them of their burial sites as well as refused to launch neutral, fair investigation to determine the cause of death.
“Putting an end to the crime of genocide in Syria and the protection of human rights are a collective responsibility under all the divine laws, international laws and the values of the free world.”
Al-Farhan went on to say that Russia continues to block any resolution at the UN Security Council to refer the Assad regime to the International Criminal Court. He wondered about the reasons behind the repeated delays in the issuance of the Caesar Act by the US Congress as well as the causes of the failure to take judicial action to prevent those involved in these crimes from escaping justice.
The Commission highly appreciated the efforts being made by Turkey, the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross in the Astana talks forcing the Assad regime to accept the rule of international human rights law.
“We also appreciate the positions made by France, England, Germany, Turkey, the United Sates, Qatar, Liechtenstein, Saudi Arabia and other friendly countries regarding the issue of detainees.”
The Commission called upon all parties of the international community to take urgent and extraordinary measures to protect detainees and exert real pressure on the Assad regime to force it to stop its atrocious crimes against detainees in its prisons.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) earlier said that it had compiled a list of the names of 118,000 people who were detained in Syria, 88 percent of whom were held in the Assad regime's detention facilities. Other human rights groups said that the figure exceeded 215,000, especially as tens of thousands of people were forcibly disappeared.
The National Commission on Detainees and Missing persons was formed by a decision of the Syrian Coalition. Technically, it works independently to defend the detainees and missing people in Syrians from all parties and to represent them in international forums using the legitimate means with the aim of stopping torture against them and protect them and ensure their release. The Commission is the legal reference to the issue of Syrian detainees. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Syrian Coalition said that the Syrian people is the sole victim of the agreement that the Assad and Iranian have recently concluded as it stressed that the Iranian regime helped the Assad regime produce internationally prohibited weapons, especially chemical weapons that have been killing Syrian civilians for the past eight years.
In a press release issued on Wednesday, the Syrian Coalition denounced any military, economic or any kind of agreement concluded by the Assad regime with any occupier and supporter of terrorism. It noted that such agreements and deals were illegitimate and invalid, especially the agreement on military operations that Iran has recently announced it concluded with the Assad regime.
The Coalition underscored that the latest agreement is targeted at the Syrian people, which is still the sole target of the crimes being committed by the Assad regime and its allied forces and militias.
“All the plans, projects and alliances that were formed by the Assad regime were solely aimed at helping it survive in power and enabling it to carry on with the repression of the people and depriving them of their basic political and human rights,” the Coalition said.
“Although the details and provisions of this agreement are still being kept secret, the hostility of the signatories towards the Syrian people and their ongoing crimes against their aspirations clearly indicate its criminal purpose and the serious danger it poses to Syria and the region.”
The Coalition added: “The Syrian people were the number one victim of the weapons developed by the Assad regime, most notably the chemical weapons and barrel bombs as well as the torture methods and murder tools inside detention facilities. Military agreements with Iran will only provide the Assad regime with more means of criminality, intimidation, and mass forced displacement.”
The Syrian Coalition called on the UN Security Council's active states to shoulder their responsibilities towards this criminal alliance and not ignore the support and being provided by Russia and Iran to the Assad regime.
“This unholy alliance must be prevented from continuing to obstruct the political solution. Real pressure must be exerted to enforce UN Security Council resolutions regarding the cessation of murder and criminality, the release of detainees, and the achievement of political transition in accordance with the Geneva Communique of 2012 and UN Security Council resolutions.” (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Syria was ranked among the most corrupt countries in the world in 2017 as the Assad regime and Iranian militias continue to dominate state institutions. A Syrian Coalition official said that this new ranking, which came a few days after Syria was ranked the most dangerous country in the world, is further evidence of the disintegration of the state institutions which were hijacked by the sectarian militias.
Member of the Syrian Coalition’s political committee Oqab Yahya said that the Assad regime’s terrorism and the war crimes it has committed over the past eight years have turned Syria into a nest for criminals from the Hezbollah militia and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps as well as the other terrorist militias that Assad brought into the country. He stressed that these militias led to the emergence of terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda, ISIS, and PYD.
Yahya pointed out that these surveys confirmed the absence of a safe environment at the moment in Syria and indicated the existence of major security, political and humanitarian crises in the country. He stressed that Russia cannot deny the existence of these crises just as it cannot impose its will on the Syrian people, including trying to force the refugees to return to Syria and live once again at the mercy of the Assad regime.
Yahya went on to say that the recent confirmation of the war crimes and torture that the Assad regime committed against detainees has indicted Moscow before the international public opinion. He noted that Russia has vigorously defended Assad at the UN Security Council and cast the veto 11 times to prevent the adoption of a resolution condemning the Assad regime and calling for bringing it before justice.
Out of 163 countries, Syria was ranked the least livable country in the world on the 2018 World Peace Index. However, Russia, which was ranked the least peaceful European country, has recently begun pushing for the return of Syrian refugees to Syria. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
An independent human rights group said that the Assad regime has admitted responsibility for thousands of cases of enforced disappearance after it recently released lists of the names of 836 people who died in its custody. It said that the Assad regime’s manipulation of the civil registry records confirmed its responsibility for thousands of kidnappings in Syria.
In a new report issued on Monday, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) said that the UN Security Council is still ‘dead’ despite the compelling evidence about the Assad regime’s responsibility for enforced disappearance in Syria. It noted that it had complied a list of the names of some 82,000 people who were forcefully disappeared in Syria and the names of 14,000 detainees who died under torture in the prisons of the Assad regime.
In May, the Assad regime began revealing the fate of a large number of the forcibly disappeared by manipulating the civil registry records and registering them as dead.
According to the report, all of the people whose names resurfaced on the recently released lists have died because of torture, save for 37 people who were executed after being issued with death sentences by the regime’s military field court-martial.
The Network said that the Assad regime did not hand over the bodies of the deceased to their families nor did it announce the deaths the day they occurred. The Assad regime has previously denied the existence of any detainees in its detention facilities. The report listed nine children and one woman.
The Network said it had cross-matched the names on the lists that the Assad regime recently released with a database of approximately 82,000 forcefully disappeared people.
The cross-matching showed that 77 percent of the names on the recently released lists were in the Network’s database, the report added. The monitoring group went on to say that it did the same cross-matching on its databases of the people who died under torture in the prisons of the Assad regime. The Network said it had compiled a list of nearly 14,000 people who had died in the regime’s custody since March 2011.
"Only 28 people were previously registered by the Network as having died because of torture, so 97 percent of the newly revealed deaths were classified as forcibly disappeared," the report added.
The report analyzed the lists that the Assad regime has recently begun releasing and concluded that most of those who were declared dead were detained in 2011 and 2012. The majority of those were forcibly disappeared in Sednaya Military Prison and Security Branches 215 and 227.
The report stressed that the crime of enforced disappearance continued as the Assad regime did not hand over the bodies of the deceased to their families. As long as the person was not found alive or dead, he is considered to be forcibly disappeared according to international law, and the main culprit is the Assad regime.
Director of the Network, Fadl Abdul Ghani, said that it is almost possible to determine the Assad regime’s goal behind the release of these lists. He said that there were two hypotheses. The first one is that the Russians asked the Assad regime to release these lists with the aim of closing the page on the issue of detainees as it remains an obstacle to the political process. The second one is that the Assad regime wants to appear as winning the war and that it is time now to turn the page on the issue of detainees.
"As human rights advocates, we must ask about the usefulness of the existence of the UN Security Council, the High Commissioner for Human Rights and international law," Abdul Ghani said.
The Network concluded its report by demanding that the UN Security Council hold an emergency meeting to discuss the dangerous situation that threatens the fate of some 82,000 people and terrorize the entire Syrian society. It also called for finding ways and mechanisms to prevent the Assad regime from further manipulation of the civil registry records.
The report also stressed the need for the UN Security Council to take measures to put an end to murder and torture in the prisons of the Assad regime and to rescue the remaining detainees as soon as possible. It stressed the need to resort to Chapter VII of the UN Charter to protect detainees from death in the Assad regime detention facilities. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Leaders of the Christian churches in the Al-Jazeera and the Euphrates areas in northeastern Syria stressed that the repressive actions of the militia of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) pose a serious threat to the Christian presence in the region as they condemned the PYD’s violations against their schools, property and areas.
The remarks were made in a statement that was issued following a meeting of the Christian clerics at the Syriac Orthodox Church in the town of Qamishli on Saturday.
The statement pointed out that the meeting was held in response to the PYD’s series of attacks on followers of the Syriac Orthodox Church and their property, lands and villages. The meeting also protested the PYD militia’s imposition of restrictions on Christian schools and its adoption of a school curriculum serving its political line.
Leaders of the Church also expressed their categorical rejection of all forms of interference and violations of the rights of Christian community in the area. They also rejected the PYD’s decision to require Christian schools to obtain licenses as well as the PYD’s interference in the design of the school curricula. They stressed that those schools meet all legal requirements as many generations from all components of the Syrian society graduated from these schools which provided a lot for the people of Hasaka province and Syria in general.
They emphasized that schools are no less important to Christians than churches, pointing out that the shutting down of schools as sending a very dangerous message and affecting the Christian presence in the region.
Participants in the meeting also stressed the need to respect the rights of the Christian community in the region. They underscored that this property and land were owned only by their original owners who made sacrifices to preserve them but who were forced to move away from their motherland because of the harsh conditions of war over the past several years. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
President of the Syrian Coalition Abdurrahman Mustafa said that Russia is still trying to deny the existence of a political problem in Syria and seeking to impose its will on the Syrian people by "the force of arms.”
Mustafa said that Russia’s recent flurry of international meetings and its often contradictory statements reflect indicated an intention towards the revitalization of the political process. He underscored that such process would be more effective if it involved the participation and presence of Syrians.
“The Syrian refugees' rejection of Russia’s calls on them to return to the country reflected their justified fears of being persecuted again by the Assad regime forces and their allies,” Mustafa said. He cited the international reports about the cases of detention and systematic, rampant torture in the prisons of the Assad regime.
“The bringing about of a political transition in accordance with the Geneva Communique of 2012 and UN Security Council resolution 2254 is still the basis for any political process in Syria,” Mustafa added. He stressed the importance of the enforcement of article 14 of resolution 2254 underscoring the urgent need to create conditions conducive to the voluntary and safe return of refugees and displaced persons to their areas of origin.
Moreover, Mustafa stressed that "Russia’s continued use of the force of arms to impose its agenda will be doomed to fail. He also emphasized the need for the UNHCR to assume its responsibility towards the implementation of international resolutions on the issue of Syrian refugees. He also stressed that the need for the start of the return of refugees and displaced persons to their areas of origin under the auspices of the United Nations and to prevent any new wave of displacement through reaching an agreement on a full and comprehensive ceasefire.
“The daily revealing of the facts on the Assad regime’s war crimes and crimes against humanity will burden Russia with greater responsibility as it is the guarantor of the regime and its defender at the UN Security Council,” Mustafa said. He cited the Assad regime’s recent issuance of death notices for thousands of detainees who died under torture in its prisons. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, has offered intending Syrian pilgrims royal grant through the Syrian Coalition’s Supreme Hajj Committee. The grant is intended to cover the cost of performing hajj rituals by 200 Syrian pilgrims.
The royal grant will be offered to large segments of the Syrian community, including religious scholars, national figures, activists, journalists, civil defense volunteers, rights activists, families of the deceased and detainees.
Secretary-General of the Syrian Coalition and head of the Supreme Hajj Committee, Nazir al-Hakim, said that the Committee has drawn a list of the names of 200 people from all components of the Syrian people, the majority of whom came from the Syrian territory. Hakim said that the selection was made away from any considerations for political orientations or affiliations.
Hakim pointed out that the intending Syrian pilgrims will meet the invitation of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to perform the Hajj starting from August 18.
Hakim said that the royal grant includes offering all services in the holy sites in addition to the Arafat's pause. The hajj journey will conclude at Madinah by visiting the Prophet's Mosque and other religious sites in the city.
Hakim once again extended his thanks to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques for Saudi Arabia’s contributions to serve the cause of the Syrian people. He said: "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been the best friend of our people. May Allah reward Saudi Arabia in the best way and help us return the favor.”
The Syrian Coalition has taken on the supervision of Syrian hajj since 2013. The Coalition’s Supreme Hajj Committee receives application for hajj in the offices it opened in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, and UAE as well as in two other offices in the liberated areas inside Syria.
The Committee has received the respect and appreciation from all other missions owing to the effective organization and discipline it has shown over the past years. The success has prompted an increase of Syria’s quota of pilgrims to 19,000, the last batch of whom will arrive in Saudi Arabia on Saturday. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
A new batch of Syrian pilgrims arrived in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the early morning hours of Tuesday. The Syrian Coalition’s Supreme Hajj Committee said that it had received the new batch of intending pilgrims and took them to their places of residence. It is expected that the last batch will arrive on Wednesday.
The latest batch has brought to about 19,000 the number of intending Syrian pilgrims who have arrived in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia under the supervision of the Syrian Coalition’s Supreme Hajj Committee.
The Committee has taken on the supervision of Syrian hajj since 2013. It receives application for hajj in the offices it opened in eight countries in addition to two other offices in the liberated areas inside Syria.
The Committee has set up three offices - medical, religious and administrative offices. Each season, the Committee draws up plans to receive pilgrims from various places in Syria and the host countries and move them to their places of residence and then to Arafat and Mina.
There are also a number of supporting teams that assist the Committee in carrying out its tasks under the supervision of one of the administrators. The Committee is composed of around 90 staff members who comprise administrators and employees.
The Syrian mission received the respect and appreciation from all other missions in the last year’s hajj season owing to the effective organization and discipline shown by the Syrian pilgrims.
Secretary General of the Syrian Coalition Nazir al-Hakim extended his thanks and appreciation for the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the Saudi Government for their efforts to provide care and services for pilgrims as well as to cater for their needs in order to perform the hajj rituals smoothly and with ease.
Al-Hakim also thanked the Turkish government for facilitating the work of the Committee and for allowing Syrians to enter Turkish territory and then travel to the Kingdom to perform Hajj without the need for an entry visa to Turkey. He also thanked neighboring countries for facilitating the departure of intending Syrian refugees from their territories. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Assad forces have further stepped up the bombing campaign on Idlib province. Activists said that the bombings were renewed on Monday morning, killing a girl and two women and wounding six other civilians.
The Syrian Civil Defense in Idlib said that its volunteers rushed to rescue victims of the shelling with heavy artillery that targeted the towns of Al-Tih and Tahtaya, adding that cluster bombs were used in the shelling.
On Friday, dozens of airstrikes and barrel bomb attacks targeted many villages and towns in Idlib, Aleppo and Hama provinces, killing eight people. Idlib has became overcrowded especially following the mass forced displacement and demographic change operations that the Assad regime forces carried out in many parts of Syria backed by its Russian ally and the Iranian terrorist militias.
An estimated four million people currently live in Idlib province, according to Emergency Response Coordinators in northern Syrian. About half of the population is forcibly displaced, of whom nearly 800,000 live in unofficial camps and suffer dire humanitarian conditions.
The Syrian Coalition last week called upon the international community to hold accountable perpetrators of war crimes in Syria and to stop the bloodletting in the country. It condemned the policies being pursued by the Assad regime and its Russian ally which are aimed at the mass forced displacement of Syrian civilians and bringing about demographic change in the region.
The Coalition warned the international community of the dire consequences of giving the Assad regime, Russia and the Iranian militias a free hand against civilians in Syria. It called for an urgent international intervention to put an end to these attacks and stop the ongoing crimes and repeated violations of international resolutions and cease-fire agreements. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)